Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

There are a staggering 40 million people in the U.S. who have a chronic sleep related disorder and the estimated cost to employers in lost productivity due to the same is approximately USD 18 billion. According to a recent study, 5% of India’s population battles sleep problems.
What Are Sleep Disorders/Problems?
When we fall asleep, we first enter the light stage of sleep - non -REM (rapid eye movement) stage and then enter a short period of REM sleep, then non-REM and the cycle alternates throughout our sleep time. Dreams happen during REM sleep. The light and deep sleep stages are called non-REM sleep. The brain is more active during the REM stage. Repair and restoration of tissues happen when we sleep. Sleep is necessary to ensure that muscles get enough rest, the nervous system works properly, hormones function normally and our emotions rest to keep stress at bay.
Sleep cycles could be disrupted due to various reasons which may not help you feel fresh on waking up. Not getting enough sleep takes a toll on our lives whether it is on relationships, health, work, moods,etc. It can even threaten your safety, for instance driving while being sleep deprived is worse than drunken driving. Recent studies suggest sleep disorders may lead to heart disease, diabetes and even obesity. Not getting enough sleep also makes a person irritable, impacts memory and brain function, and causes headaches and gastrointestinal problems. Sleep disorders disrupt the normal sleep cycle and you end up feeling sleepy throughout the day or even have a hard time waking up.

How Much Sleep Do You Need Everyday?
Though the amount of sleep needed varies and some people can do with much less sleep than others, the standard hours per day are as under for different categories/ages:
Infants - 15 to 17.
Teenagers 9 to 10.
Adults - 7-8.
Reasons For Sleep Problems.
Medical problems like chronic pain, heartburn, asthma, thyroid issues, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, depression and anxiety are some reasons for sleep disruptions.
Poor lifestyle choices also cause havoc like drinking coffee or eating heavy food at night and not giving enough time between eating and sleeping. 
Some medicines also cause sleep problems. They could either make you sleepy all the time or keep you awake!
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also impact sleep.
Menopause may cause hot flashes which are extremely uncomfortable and prevents one from sleeping.
People working in shifts can get a circadian rhythm disorder wherein the body clock is tuned differently.
Sleep Apnea causes breathing to stop momentarily for a few seconds and starts again , repeating this cycle over and over again. The pauses can make one switch from deep sleep to light sleep stage and disrupt sleep.
Restless Legs Syndrome, where the legs feel uncomfortable with tingling or twitchy sensations can be a sleep impediment.
Bed wetting in children also causes sleep disruptions.
Stress or grief could also wreck your sleep.
What You Can do To Sleep Well.
If you are not battling a medical condition or taking medicines which cause sleep disruptions, you can incorporate the following to help you sleep better.
Do not surf the net or play violent video games or watch T.V. just before sleeping. In fact, computers and T.Vs should be kept out of the bedroom.
Exercise in the evenings, couple of hours before bedtime, to help sleep better. 
Do not exercise close to bedtime.
Avoid caffeine and nicotine at or couple of hours before bedtime.
Take a warm bath, it relaxes muscles and induces sleep.
Do deep breathing and meditation to relax.
Avoid heavy high fat foods, they are not only difficult to digest but can also cause heartburn.
Avoid drinking too much fluids before bedtime, else you will end up getting up often to use the loo.
Get Help If Need Be.
If sleep is altering your life in more ways than one, you must consult a doctor who may refer you to a sleep lab for a study of your sleep pattern for the correct diagnosis.
The primary function of sleep is to provide rest to the body, repair and restore the energy levels. Sleep is an important function. If you are battling shuteye every night, do not sleep over the problem; consult a  physician who can help you with a good night’s sleep. 

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